Monthly Archives: January 2012

an unlikely Candle Lighter

Candle light in the night

There are days when I feel like I’m invisible.

There are definitely days when I feel like my existence doesn’t really account for much and that my friends and family fail to see me either by their inability to understand who I really am or they know who I am and just can’t deal with it.  Either way it makes for some fairly isolated times.  Still, its a better choice to protect and put myself first than to be around people just for the sake of it.

One of the most soothing, honoring exercises I do is write.  Sometimes its silly stuff but more often, I dive in head first into the memories of my abusive past and their manifestations of my present.  Starting this blog was first and foremost for me but then quickly grew to almost an obsession to connect with others who’ve had this or a similar experience.  It seemed that this was the one sure fire way that I could confirm my existence and quickly found that survivors not only validate my experiences but are hungry for a place to share their unique stories and set of circumstances.  And I knew in my gut that this connection would be the healing force for me as I attempted to lift my fellow survivor out of the muck.

My biggest confirmation thus far is to receive The Candle Lighter Award from a fellow blogger, BiPolarMuse, a young woman whose name I don’t know but stories that I do know.  I am in awe of her writing as well as the stories that I’m finding among these everyday women scattered across the internet.  These are her words… “The Candle Lighter Award is an award for a post or blog that is positive and brings light into the world.  The Candle Lighter Award belongs to those who believe, who always survive the day and who never stop dreaming, who do not quit but keep trying.”  Wow…those words made my day.

This small circle that keeps widening continues to fascinate me.  I must admit, however,  I rarely feel like a candle lighter and it feels odd to accept this compliment when its me that reaps the benefits of these relationships.  But, I do love the fabulous image of a candle’s glow, illuminating a path for others and bringing our truth to the light.  Have I really made a difference to anyone but myself?  Could that really be me?  

Heck yeah, it is.  

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what love looks like…

You wanna know what love looks like?  Read this…

My Son, The Dancer – Part II.


the letters in my life….

Recently my life has been a world salad.

My family and I have recently been throwing around letters of treatment modalities combined with prospective and already assigned diagnosis.  In an effort to be an well informed consumer as well as keeping our minds and hearts open to whatever ensures that our family and I are getting the most help, we’ve tried many therapies.  Some more interesting and helpful than others, we’ve journeyed down the road full of letters and abbreviations designed to add brevity to a complex and confusing situation.

These recent conversations in our home were very timely accented by a thread on Facebook where Terri, owner at Bone Sigh Arts, asked  her audience what therapies helped the women survivors….I feel compelled as always, to help my fellow woman survivor and this is a partial list from that thread with some of my own thrown in…

  • EFT ~ Emotional Freedom Technique ~ Gary Craig
  • NAET ~ Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique ~ created by Dr. Devi Nambudripad
  • DBT ~ Dialectic Behavior Therapy ~ created by Marsha Linehan
  • Energy Medicine ~  created by Donna Eden
  • Herbal remedies for physical and emotional conditions
  • EMDR ~ Eye Movement Desensitivation Response
  • IB ~ Inner Bonding ~ created by Margaret Paul 
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Cranial-Sacral Therapy ~ John Upledger

Homeopathy, acupuncture, massage therapy and the list goes on of top notch healing modalities….

Now here are some of the letters attached to me….SA (sexual abuse) survivor, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), DID (disassociative identity disorder) , CFIDS (chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome), LD (Lyme disease), EBV (Epstein-Barr) and the recently suggested but not confirmed BPD (borderline personality disorder).

I prefer to think that these letters will set me free instead of inducing more confusion although the process of maneuvering through them can be confusing.  I am putting this post mostly for reference, there aren’t any conclusions here.  I have found that the technique is as almost as good as the practitioner.  For example, my NAET practitioner is excellent.  She is kind, intuitive and skilled out the whazoo.   The woman who did EMDR for me was just okay and I didn’t pursue working with her.  One has to follow their instincts strongly here and find a practitioner that you can trust implicitly when doing this type of work.

Next week, I begin working with a woman (who was a fabulous fit by the way) who will be teaching me DBT.  It’s high success rate makes it not only a perfect technique for those with BPD but for many less labeled individuals.  We begin our work even without the controversial label of BPD which actually is one reason I agreed to see her.  She isn’t interested in the diagnosis just the outcome.  That sealed the deal for me.

Just to cover all the bases and to shut some people in my life up, I saw my MD/psychiatrist who yawned and scratched his face when I told him of my plans to start DBT and did he think I had BPD.  He didn’t really answer me but asked me if I had a firm, concrete plan for my suicide to which I replied no.  He handed me some anti-depressant samples and told me to come back in a month.  My answers hadn’t compelled him to jump to any conclusions nor hospitalize me.  I can’t say that I was disappointed by his lack of conclusion because it was pretty much the way I saw it too.  His apathy may have done me a favor.

That doesn’t mean I don’t know that things are amiss with me sometimes.  One can’t go through this type of trauma and not come out with swiss cheese for a brain on occasion. My family and I have been through times of hell that forced growth and compassion on us whether we liked it or not.  DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) has as one of its cornerstones the concept of radical acceptance which I immediately latched on to.  It feels really kind to learn to accept myself for exactly as I am and because of what I have been through.  What a beautiful thought to understand the strengths and limitations brought to me by this situation, accept it and go on to be the best person I can be.  And of course, my hope that my family and friends also learn the concept of radical acceptance but its not required for my success.

And by the way, this work takes time.  One of the mantras that I hear over and over from sensitive practitioners and support people is that it took a lifetime for us to get this way so be patient with the recovery.  Its so true for me that being gentle with myself has been one of the most important approaches to these life changing therapies that I would place very near the top.  That and a good dog.

This post touches on many, many topics.  Digest them slowly, stay informed and be gentle with yourself.  Otherwise you may find yourself drowning in word salad.


Are you isolating yourself?

Silhouette of a woman in a cave looking at her...

I get this question a lot.

Probably because I spend a great deal of time alone, in some people’s minds too much. Its not that I want to be isolated, I just find that I am.  In fact, I’ve become an expert on non-isolation techniques, as in, I have figured out how to participate in life beyond my physical and emotional disabilities.

I love being with people. I always have. I see the same traits in my daughter, she loves being around her friends and gravitates toward busy jobs brimming with people.  The best job I ever had was at a women’s clinic where there was this awesome nest of women, all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and beliefs….it was heaven.

Then, came the losses to an already compromised emotional soul, each taking their chunk of me until I resemble a slice of swiss cheese.  The holes are huge and deep and gaping and oozing and I work every day at keeping myself from seeping out all over the place.

Isolation comes when one’s body breaks down, keeping you from your work, livelihood and friends where one begins to fade into the distance. The old adage…out of sight, out of mind is true.

Isolation comes when your family can’t look at who you are anymore, your emotional disease gives them plenty of reason to hate you and not come around, after all, being in pain isn’t pretty no matter how hard you try to gloss it over.

Isolation comes to visit again when faced with your child rejecting who you seem to be and not seeing who you really are.  On most days, I can still pray for her and our broken relationship while reframing the unrelenting ache of how much I want her in my life.

Isolation comes when your partner looks at you differently because the toll of you has surpassed what he expected and what he believes he can handle.  The look isn’t completely devoid of love; resembling more a doggedly loyalty and disappointment as to how life isn’t fair for him.

Its odd how the question of “are you isolating yourself” is presented to me.  Its almost as if I haven’t already climbed the tallest skyscraper to have a full and functioning life.  And it seems that its overlooked that I’ve walked across hot coals and  practically begged myself into different groups of people in order to keep that phobia at bay, forcing myself to hurdle over the fear/anxiety/warped thinking that wants to win and plunging straight into activities that sometimes work out and sometimes don’t.  I know what brings me joy and being acknowledged for who I am and invited to join an activity makes my heart soar.  Especially if it comes from any member of my family.  And that doesn’t sound like someone who tries to isolate herself.

Now here’s the tricky part.  This is where the psychiatric world has been called in to address my pain and isolation.   Its been decided that my love for people is an attachment of a pathological form.  Something I feel as a warm glow from my heart has been labeled as an aberrant way of avoiding my extreme fear of rejection of course, stemming from my childhood abuse and neglect.  My desire to love and not be isolated is now a bad thing.  Its now being presented, rather callously I may add, that I have borderline personality disorder to which in some parts I don’t disagree with.  The message has some merit but the delivery so far has sucked.

Wikipedia defines borderline personality disorder as “prolonged disturbance of personality function characterized by depth and variability of moods”.  It seems to be one of the scariest, time consuming and all around unsatisfying diagnosis for the psychological/psychiatric profession to deal with.   Joke among therapists… “How do you get rid of the annoying, troublesome patient from your caseload?  Tell them they are BPD and they will become so angry they will leave!”  Apparently even the non BPD want to be labeled BPD.  While some people laugh at this, I find this profoundly sad.

Wiki goes on to say that there is concern about social stigma; “the severe disapproval of or discontent with a person on the grounds of characteristics that distinguish them from other members of a society”.  Apparently some members of the profession get that this particularly disease tends to ostracize the very people who are more than capable of doing that to themselves.  Hmmm….I’m getting some irony here….Wouldn’t it make sense to surround these people with love and acceptance for who they are while not enabling the disease.  Aren’t we back to the last post where I ranted about separating the person from their behavior?  Love the person, hate the disease?

Thank the universe for Marsha M. Linehan who has led the field in therapies for the BPD patient and added a whole lot of humanity to their situation.  Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is proving to be not only the best choice for recovery but accessible to those therapists choosing to change their elitist views on treating the sickest of the sick.  Marsha herself was/is a BPD patient subject to the most inhumane and cruel treatment at the hands of the psychiatric profession.  She schooled herself, becoming a PhD and led the way toward a kinder, gentler way of viewing the sick.

Those closest to me have learned to scorn me in a very obtuse sort of way. If they find me hurting and difficult, they leave.  If others see me alone too much, they say I isolate too much.  If I am anxious about an upcoming separation where I will be completely alone for several days, they tell me I am too attached and fear rejection.  If I object to and confront a situation that feels wrong (even though I’m told to take care of myself and my boundaries), then I’m labeled hostile and aggressive.

And as always, I reflect continually, my behavior, my nuance, the energy I project and constantly wonder….Am I really the crazy one?


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